Morgan Olson
Rivian enters the commercial vehicle market through a collaboration with body builder Morgan Olson.

Rivian extends its reach into the commercial vehicle space, enters partnership with JBPCO

March 7, 2024
The electric vehicle manufacturer will provide Rivian Commercial Van’s chassis to power Morgan Olson’s C250e. JBPCO and Rivian discuss additional collaborations in the future.

INDIANAPOLIS—Rivian is making its way further into the commercial vehicle space, stripping the van body from its Rivian CV product and marrying its chassis to the Morgan Olson C250. The partnership will lead to the development of an electric version of the C250 step-van announced in March 2023, designed specifically for Canada Post. The companies made the announcement at NTEA’s Work Truck Week here in Indianapolis.

While the C250e is the partnership's current focus, Joe Thompson, Morgan Olson's COO, told FleetOwner the Rivian platform could be used with other bodies "down the road.” This is because leaders in the JBPCO group see Rivian as the electrified answer to a need in the light-duty commercial vehicle space.

“We've come to the conclusion that Rivian produces the best, most reliable, most tested EV chassis available,” John Poindexter, JPCO CEO, told FleetOwner.

The decision to electrify the C250 was made before deciding what chassis to put under it, said Mark Hope, president of EAVX, the innovation hub of JBPCO. However, “the challenge with that scale and that size of vehicle is getting the right chassis partner.”

“Rivian is that for a chassis partner,” Hope told FleetOwner. “It's the most complete chassis in the market in that class.”

Building the foundation for Rivian’s push into the commercial space

The JBPCO partnership with Rivian stemmed from a visit to Rivian’s manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois, from John Poindexter and other leaders from JBPCO. Poindexter said the group thought the facility to be “impressive,” and he and other JBPCO leaders established relationships with Rivian, which led to the partnership.

“This announcement is really the culmination and potentially the first step of a very strong partnership,” Tom Solomon, Rivian’s senior director of B2B business development, told FleetOwner. “This represents the foundation.”

This partnership could potentially bring a Rivian-powered vehicle to any fleet across the U.S., but this wasn’t always the case, as e-commerce giant Amazon had exclusive rights to Rivian’s commercial van platform until the parties announced its release last November. Amazon (No. 6 on the FleetOwner 500: Private) has 10,000 Rivian vans on the road.

Now that the exclusivity period is over, Rivian wants to make its presence in the fleet space known, “and partnerships like this are foundational to it,” Solomon said.

See also: AT&T piloting Rivian EVs for fleet electrification

Features of the Morgan Olson C250e, powered by Rivian

The Morgan Olson C250e will feature the same platform as the Rivian CV but in the form of a stripped chassis, or a “skateboard,” as Solomon called it—and it’s also a company milestone.

“The first non-Rivian Van application for that skateboard is this partnership with Morgan Olson and the JB Poindexter family of companies,” Solomon said.

Because the C250e is designed for the Canadian postal service, Rivian will have to make a few design changes to the chassis to accommodate a right-hand drive configuration. But Solomon said essentially the chassis for the C250e is “primarily the off-the-shelf platform,” with few alterations to the manufacturing facility or additional internal investment.

While it has a Morgan Olson body, the C250e is packed with Rivian technology, such as Rivian’s user interface, user experience, and software stack, Solomon told FleetOwner. It could also feature Rivian’s safety features, including automatic emergency braking, driver assistance features, and 360-degree camera system. The C250e features a 100kWh lithium ion phosphate (LFP) battery pack.

More to come from Rivian in the commercial vehicle space

There is a demand for smaller EVs in the commercial vehicle space, Hope said, and Rivian was a “fit” for the C250e. But JBPCO leaders said this is just the first innovation of many with the EV manufacturer.

“We expect to put [the Rivian chassis] under a number of bodies or develop prototypes with individual customers who will be interested in the combination of body technology,” Poindexter said.

Thompson added that with the Morgan Olson brand, additional applications that would suit a Rivian-powered Morgan Olson body would be smaller grocery delivery and other Class 2B applications with a GVWR of 8,510 to 10,000 lb.

JBPCO is already looking to the future and how to best use this partnership to continue innovation in the commercial vehicle space. Jacob Larimore, senior director of business development at EAVX, said there have already been preliminary conversations with Rivian about how far their partnership can go and what it can become.

“What you're seeing [with the C250e] is a starting point,” Larimore told FleetOwner. “We're hopeful that it will continue to evolve."

About the Author

Jade Brasher

Senior Editor Jade Brasher has covered vocational trucking and fleets since 2018. A graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in journalism, Jade enjoys telling stories about the people behind the wheel and the intricate processes of the ever-evolving trucking industry.    

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